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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Point Hacks
Matt Moffitt is the managing editor of Point Hacks Australia. Point Hacks has 2 sites: One for their Australian audience and another for their good friends in New Zealand. They can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
You can follow Matt’s personal travels on Instagram (he wrote this post from Vienna, Austria!).
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Back when I was 9 years old, in 1998, my dad flew our family from Sydney to Seattle to complete a year of exchanging jobs, houses, and lives with another math teacher.
It was my first time on an international flight. I remember not knowing why I should dread flying 13 hours across the Pacific in United Airlines coach. I cried during turbulence over Hawaii, but was happy to earn United Airlines miles for the flight, which I coordinated for our family of 4 to use for a ski trip to New Zealand 3 years later.
However, in hindsight, we may have gotten more value by using our points to book our parents in Business Class and just buying coach tickets with cash for my brother and me.
Why did you join the Point Hacks team? What’s special about the blog?
Point Hacks has been blogging about the world of frequent flyer points in Australia since 2011, with our New Zealand sister site launching 5 years later.
I joined the team as a contributing writer at the start of 2016, and am now involved full-time as the managing editor.
Point Hacks has the biggest readership of any frequent flyer blog “down under.” We aim to make the complex world of points simpler with posts like our best uses of points series and where to credit your next flight.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Six out of every 10 frequent flyer points comes from a source other than actually flying—and credit cards earning the bulk of those—getting the right mix of cards in your wallet is so important in planning your next trip.
Just make sure that you are in a financial position to not be carrying a balance on those cards month-to-month.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Definitely Iran, however, it is much more difficult for travelers from the US to gain entry. Luckily, as an Australian passport holder, I was able to experience it. I found it to be one of the most misunderstood and undervalued countries of the world.
When I visited for 10 days back in 2016, it opened my eyes to a land of hospitable people, beautiful architecture, amazing food—and very few other tourists.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They don’t quite ‘get’ it and think I am constantly points-hungry. But it is better than being money-hungry! They have gotten sufficiently jealous, seeing how I get to lie in a bed on a plane, have asked me for advice so they can do the same.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Due to our much smaller population than the US (we have less people in the whole country than there are Texans), travelers in Australia usually fly nonstop when flying domestically. However, when you travel domestically within the US, you often need to make a connection, due to the hub-and-spoke model of many airlines.
I use the trick of forcibly breaking a one-stop itinerary into a multi-city ticket on Google Flights all the time. For example, when researching a one-way coach ticket on American Airlines from Orlando to Oakland, the cheapest result I found was flying via Phoenix for $371, which is a lot of money!
By breaking the trip up into Orlando to Phoenix and then Phoenix to Oakland, I was able to select the same exact flights for only $231 in total. I saved almost 40%! If you are traveling with other people, those savings can really add up!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I signed up for a 1-year Match.com subscription for just over $200 to earn 20,000 British Airways Avios points.
That saved my boyfriend and me a huge about of money in being able to redeem our British Airways Avios for both Business Class and coach tickets on LATAM flights within Chile, Argentina, and Peru when we were trekking around that part of the world for 3 months in early 2018.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
That the maximum value you can get out of your points is redeeming them for travel in Business and First Class rather than coach—it took a while for that to sink in.
I remember spending 12,500 Aegean miles + almost $150 in taxes on a one-way United Airlines coach flight from Mexico City to San Francisco back in 2014. I should have just used cash for that ticket. You live and you learn, I guess!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I was one of the very lucky people to have won a Diversity Immigrant Visa for the US. In the year I was successful (after trying 4 times previously), I was one of the 50,000 winners chosen out of 13+ million applicants to be given a green card (permanent residency) to live here in the US—for the rest of my life, if I want to!
I spent my first 3 (amazing!) years in Austin, Texas, which I loved for the warm weather, friendly people, delicious food and drink, and loads of places to cool off in freshwater lakes and pools. Now I’m considering spending the summer in Berkeley, California and seeing where I go from there!
Any parting words?
I really mean this—one of my favorite US blogs to follow is Million Mile Secrets for how you make complex concepts easy-to-understand and for your friendly and non-pretentious tone. When you approached us to be featured on your site, it took me, oh maybe, a millisecond to say yes!
Matt – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!
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